New ASERVIC Competencies

The Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling (ASERVIC) has revised its list of counselor competencies for dealing with spiritual subject matter.  I mentioned this association (which I belong to) in my recent PCP podcast on finding a Pagan-friendly counselor (episode #108 — not available quite yet as of today).

Items #7 & #8 give me hope that counselors will show increasing tolerance for Paganism:

  • 7. The professional counselor responds to client communications about spirituality and/or religion with acceptance and sensitivity.
  • 8. The professional counselor uses spiritual and/or religious concepts that are consistent with the client’s spiritual and/or religious perspectives and that are acceptable to the client.

Item #10 may give some clients pause — a counselor following this would explicitly inquire about the client’s religious and spiritual perspectives.  Pagan clients will need to have an answer they are comfortable with ready to go:

  • 10. During the intake and assessment processes, the professional counselor strives to understand a client’s spiritual and/or religious perspective by gathering information from the client and/or other sources.

What I would like to see more of in this standard is an emphasis on actively finding the positive tools, techniques, and outlooks included in religions that help clients towards health.  So the standard does say that counselors recognize that religious perspectives can effect mental health positively and negatively, and that the counselor can use religious practices when appropriate, but the standard does not emphasize trying to actively seek out the tools within each religion that promote health.

— Michael

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